Charles F. Iddings

Written By: nppladmin - Jun• 22•21
Originally published to on June 18, 2021.

Today’s History post looks back at a grand Victorian home in North Platte, located at 519 West 5th Street. This neighborhood features many large beautiful Victorian houses and you may even see some original gas lamp streetlights.

The North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune announced on May 19, 1887, “The fine mansion of C. F. Iddings on Fifth Street, is fast nearing completion and when completed will be one of the finest residences in the city.” <see original homestead sketch>

Charles Iddings was born on July 19, 1856, in Warren, Ohio. He moved to North Platte in October of 1883. One of Charles first jobs was to manage the railroad eating house, and the stockyards. He eventually acquired a lumber yard. He expanded his lumber business and had lumber yards in Sutherland, Maxwell, Hershey, and Julesburg, Colorado. By 1893, Charles purchased a grain business and a flour mill to his business interests. Charles did business all over Lincoln County, as well as several towns in Colorado.

Charles married his first wife, Kate (Taffe) Iddings and built a grand home in 1887 at 519 West 5th Street. Sadly, Kate and her baby, both died during child-birth. Charles remained in the house, living with his sister, until he married Effie Cleland in 1893. Effie and Charles had four children: Florence Elizabeth (1894-1994); Nanine Ray (1896-1998); Charles Forrest Jr (1898-1968); and Henry Cleland 1900-1970). Around 1896, Mr. Iddings’ health took a turn for the worse and he eventually became in invalid, leaving his wife to run all his business interests. <see photographs of Charles and the Iddings family>

The original house was a two and a half story gabled house in a typical Victorian style. There was a windmill in the back, as well as a picket fence (which was removed in 1904). A barn sat in the northwest corner with a wood shed, tool house, privy, and chicken coop. A playhouse and wash shed were built in 1904. Sleeping porches became all the rage around 1907; since it was better for one’s health, to sleep in the fresh night air, so Charles added sleeping porches. In 1911, all the small buildings were removed when Charles and Effie bought their first car. They converted the barn into a garage.

Then on Feb. 4, 1913 the North Platte Telegraph announced, “The Iddings residence will be remodeled this spring, the work to be done under the supervision of D. M. Hogsett. While these changes are being made the family will spend the time in California.” The major renovation included the house being raised up and an underground basement put in. The house was moved back over the new basement and a third story was added. Large wrap around porches were also added to the first and second floors.

Sadly, Charles Iddings didn’t get to enjoy the new renovations to his beautiful house for very long. He died a few months after the renovations were completed, on January 25, 1914. After his death, Effie sold all his business interests shortly after his death, but continued to live in the house for several more years with her children.

The current-day exterior of the home looks mostly like it did after the 1913 renovation, with only a few changes. Interesting facts about the house:

**Buffalo Bill Cody was a friend of Charles Iddings and used to pay poker in the formal dining room.

**On the first floor, all the doors were faced with the wood that was used in the corresponding room. Oak was used in the entry hall; cherry wood was used in the front parlor and dining room; and sycamore was used in the back parlor.

**This house is mentioned in Nellie Snyder Yost’s book, “Evil Obsession.” When one of Annie Cook’s captives escaped, she sought sanctuary at the “Kelly” house. Charles Iddings house is “the old Kelly house.”

The history of the ownership of the house is as follows:

  • Charles and Effie Iddings
  • The Cramer Family
  • A. P. Kelly (Owner of the North Platte Telegraph)
  • Sarah and Verne Taylor
  • The Ken Hornbaucher Family
  • Marcene and Darrell Franzen
  • Claire and John Hawley
  • Trista and Duane Smith
  • Rachel and Steven Stahr
  • And now there are new residents living there and enjoying this beautiful historic home.

Come back next week for more North Platte History and get out and enjoy NEBRASKALAND DAYS!!

James A. McMichael

Written By: nppladmin - Jun• 14•21
Originally published to on 6/11/2021.

Since we have been highlighting buildings and homes in North Platte over the past few months, I thought it was time for you to meet the builder/contractor of many businesses and houses. So, let me introduce the McMichael Family!

James A. McMichael was born on April 22, 1861 in Lickingville, Pennsylvania to Alonzo and Mary McMichael. James was the oldest of ten children born to Alonzo and Mary.

In 1878, Alonzo came to North Platte as a carpenter, builder, and contractor by trade. His wife and family joined him in 1880. Their last child born to them was Jennie May and she was born in North Platte, Nebraska. Alonzo established his carpentry business and built a number of the larger buildings and residences in North Platte. He was a hard-working man, who passed along both his trade and his honest reputation and integrity to his sons; who in turn continued the family carpentry tradition and also built many structures in North Platte. James became the primary contractor in the family, and three of his brothers were also carpenters in North Platte: Benton “Bent”; Franklin Clyde “Clyde”; and Howard Russell (Howard also served on the City Council in 1921).

On November 22, 1888, James married Sciota Salinda “Sota or Zota” Rowley, and to them four daughters were born: Estella M. “Mame” (1889-1968); Daisy Frances (1891-1958); Luella “Dollie” Margaret (1894-1927); Ruby Irene (1900-1943).

James’ work as a contractor led him to build some of the most prominent buildings in North Platte. He built the McCabe Hotel, the Palace Hotel, the Hendy-Ogier Ford Garage, the 2nd High School building, the Knights of Columbus Hall and more. James A McMichael also put up the first house on the site of Hershey in Lincoln County in 1890. One can only imagine how many other buildings and houses were built by the McMichael family, since only the large prominent ones are mentioned in the research materials. Many, many notices were seen in the North Platte newspapers of James McMichael starting or completing farmhouses, businesses, homes, and other types of buildings. By 1920, the name of his contracting business was McMichael Brothers.

James was affiliated with Lodge No 985 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

James A. McMichael died on August 21, 1924 in an Omaha hospital, after suffering a heart attack and stroke.

Family photographs are courtesy of Charlene Rowley.

St. Patrick’s Catholic Schools

Written By: nppladmin - Jun• 08•21
Originally published to on June 4, 2021.

Although this history story is about a month late, I am happy to bring you today’s North Platte History, which focuses on St Patrick’s Catholic schools in North Platte. Because there is such an extensive history, we have chosen to start with McDaid Elementary School history and will have another segment focusing on St. Patrick’s High School later this year.

Readers should know that our library researchers found conflicting information about the “true” date/year that our parochial school opened. We consulted with Bill McGahan and he agreed that the date below is what the Church recognizes as the official opening of the Catholic school in North Platte.

On Saturday, September 12, 1891, the North Platte Telegraph announced that St. Patrick’s Catholic Church opened the first parochial school in North Platte. The newspaper stated that it opened with one hundred and five students. When the school opened it was named “Nativity Convent School”. The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Concordia, Kansas were sent here to run the school. The frame building of the Nativity School was sold to Mrs. Joseph Donegan and moved to B and Sycamore Street where it continues to exist as a private residence. <See photograph of a large house operating as a school, with nuns as teachers>

In 1902 the school closed. When it reopened in 1903, it was operated by the Dominican sisters until 1912. During this time, the school was called “St. Patrick’s Catholic School.”

Patrick McDaid was born September 18, 1881 to Michael McDaid (1856-1940) and Annie Doherty McDaid (1857-1931) IN Londonderry, Northern Ireland. He had eight sisters (Annie, Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Isabella, Ellen, Margaret, and Martha) and two brothers (Michael and John). His brother Michael, also became a priest. He joined the Priesthood and studied in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland. During his priesthood, he served as a priest of the Omaha Diocese, and he worked with Father Flanagan to set up “Boy’s Town,” and devoted his life to the service of others. Father McDaid and Father Flanagan remained friends their entire life. Father Flanagan often brought Boys Town groups to North Platte to perform (and likely raise money for Boys Town). <see photograph of a young Father McDaid>

On October 10, 1910, Father Patrick McDaid arrived from Londonderry, Ireland and became the first resident priest for St. Patrick’s parish. When he arrived in North Platte there were about 65 families in the parish and 47 children in the Catholic school. His missions in 1910 included: Willow Island, Gothenburg, Brady, Maxwell, Gandy, Keystone, and Sutherland. One should remember that this was an era when travel was very difficult: roads were not well-developed and travel was by horse and buggy.

During Father McDaid’s time in North Platte, his legacy was to build a new school and a new rectory. He also arranged the purchase of a large residence to be used as a large Convent for the sisters. The entire block where St Patrick’s church currently sits, was paved. All debt had been retired; and he began a building fund for a new church before leaving the parish. It should be noted here that St. Patrick’s parish was under the direction of the Diocese of Grand Island as of March 8, 1912, with Bishop James A. Duffy presiding. Prior to Bishop Duffy, North Platte was a part of the Diocese of Omaha.

Bishop Duffy encouraged Father McDaid to erect a new parochial school. In 1913, Father McDaid went back to Ireland for a three week vacation. While there, he had the plans for a new three story brick school drawn up. The plans were given great publicity in Ireland for their architectural and educational triumphs. On this visit to Ireland, he also made a trip to Rome and was granted an audience with Pope Pius X (Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, (1835-1914), Italian pope from 1903 to 1914).

The Holy Father was greatly interested in St. Patrick’s congregation, and asked many questions about the parish, providing His blessing to impart on the parish, upon McDaid’s return. Plans were developed for the new structure directly east of the church in the same block. The cost of the new brick building was $52,000. When the new three story school was erected in 1916, the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, Kentucky were placed in charge of the grade and high school. Enrollment had increased considerably and the faculty consisted of seven sisters.

Housing had not yet been arranged for the nuns, so the Reverend Anton Link offered them the hospitality of St. Patrick’s Academy in Sidney, Nebraska, which was spacious enough to accommodate them. The sisters returned to North Platte to take residence in Father McDaid’s parish house, which he vacated for them until the school quarters could be furnished. When completed, the third floor of the school building housed the dormitories, community room and chapel, while the kitchen, refectory, and laundry were in the basement. The school building opened after the celebration of Mass in honor of the Holy Spirit on September 17, 1917. The High School was accredited by the state of Nebraska in 1920. On April 22, 1918, Mass was celebrated on the third floor in the school chapel for the first time with Father McDaid as celebrant. Mr. and Mrs. William Jeffers and daughter Eileen, who were donors of the altar were in attendance. Bishop Duffy blessed and erected the Stations of the Cross. The building became known as the St. Patrick’s School building. <See photograph of the three-story brick building that many readers will remember>

Father McDaid served the parish for thirty seven years. He was a prominent and popular figure in North Platte. He revived the parochial school and pushed for the development of the brick school building, which eventually bore his name. After he resigned, he returned to his homeland of Ireland, making his home with relatives in Londonderry, Ireland. In 1960, Father McDaid did return to the North Platte parish for a visit and received a warm welcome from his former parishioners and friends. He was in poor health and after his return to Ireland, he died January 18, 1961. <See photograph of his headstone in Ireland>

The Catholic School was renamed to “McDaid Elementary School” in 1968, in honor of Father Patrick McDaid.

In 2013, this brick building was torn down to make room for a new Family Life Center and improvements to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. See article written before it was torn down:…/article_e97adab2-02bc-5387…

The current McDaid Elementary School is located at 1002 East E Street and was built in 2000. <see color photograph of the current school>

Thank you for reading about our North Platte history!

Thomas C. Patterson

Written By: nppladmin - May• 28•21
Originally published to on Friday 5/28/2021.

Thomas Cartwright Patterson was born on February 3, 1846 in County Down, Ireland. He came to America with his parents, W. J. and Mary Patterson, in 1854. Thomas received most of his education in Chicago’s grammar schools. At the age of sixteen, he enlisted in the Illinois Infantry and served thirty-two months for the Union Army during the Civil War. He was involved in numerous Civil War Battles: Mission Ride, Chickamauga and Buzzard Roost Gap.

In 1868, Thomas moved with his parents to North Platte, Nebraska, where he went to work for the Union Pacific Railroad as a fireman, and then in the shops.

He taught school in 1870 and then served as postmaster from 1871 to 1882. During this same time he also opened and ran a general store and studied law. He became a lawyer in 1883, started the Mutual Building and Loan Association of North Platte in 1887, the first of its kind in Nebraska, and opened a real estate business in 1890. Through smart and diligent investing he owned (clear of any debt) five farms in Lincoln County which he sold in 1919 for nearly $100,000 and making him one of the wealthiest men of North Platte.

Thomas was intelligent and had excellent business sense. Sadly, his personal life was filled with tragedy; most of his children died at a very young age, usually before their 30th or 40th birthday.

In 1871, Thomas married Mary Virginia Morris. They had two children: Col. George T. Patterson (son, 1872-1919; he died of Spanish Influenza) and Ruth M. Patterson (daughter, 1876-1962). In December, 1881, his wife, Mary died at age 31.

On September 15, 1884, Thomas married his second wife, Mary Trumbull Bradley. They had five children together and all of the children died at young ages. Edith Lindsley (daughter, 1885-1920, age 35, teacher at NPHS-died of smoke & gas inhalation); Marcus Grant (son, 1885-1886, age 1 year); Sidney (son, 1890-1890); Thomas Clinton (son, 1891-1892, age 1 year); and Lindsley Searle (daughter, 1892-1892).

If you have ever wondered who built and is buried in the only mausoleum on the west end of the North Platte Cemetery, well, that individual was Thomas C. Patterson. The Patterson mausoleum was built in July 1919 to honor the memory of his son, George T. Patterson. It was built by Chas. G. Blade & Company of Chicago, Illinois and contains over 60 tons of materials. The exterior consists of New England gray granite and the interior is embellished with very fine imported Italian marble. The doors to the mausoleum are bronze. There are ten bodies in the vault.

Thomas was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church, served three terms as mayor of North Platte and was responsible for pursuing a grant to build the 1912 Carnegie Library in North Platte. The house he built and lived in still stands today at 515 West 4th Street.

The History of Lincoln County remembered Mr. Patterson this way… “Thomas C. Patterson is one of the names deserving of most frequent repetition in connection with the history of North Platte during a period of more than half a century. “See-est thou a man diligent at his business; he shall stand before kings.” Diligence seems to have been the keynote in the career of Mr. Patterson. There has never been a time in the past fifty years when he has not been engaged in some line of useful service, and much of it in behalf of the community. His is a rare instance of a man achieving individual prosperity after passing the prime of his years.”

Thomas Cartwright Patterson died November 18, 1929 at the age of 83.

Women Wrestlers Come to North Platte

Written By: nppladmin - May• 24•21
Originally published to on May 21, 2021

Today’s history Friday is about lady wrestlers that broke barriers. The history of women’s wrestling pre-dates the 1980’s by decades; in fact, the Golden Age of Women Wrestling took place in the 1940’s and 1950’s; and North Platte actually hosted several female wrestling events! Today, we salute those female athletes!

On March 28, 1947 the North Platte Daily Telegraph announced a first in sporting events for North Platte. The Lion’s Club was hosting a “Rasslin’ Show” at the Fox Theater and for the first time, female wrestlers were coming to the North Platte wrestling ring, according to the newspaper.

White women wrestlers, Nell Stewart and Violet Viann, were scheduled to fight three bouts as the main event of the evening. Nell Stewart was better known as the “Marilyn Monroe of Wrestling”. <see photographs>

In August of 1951, wrestlers Donna Marie and Betty Hawkins came to North Platte to put on a show for the wrestling fans. The match was held at the Jeffers Park behind the Jeffers Pavilion. The Union Pacific Athletic Club sponsored the match.

On November 13, 1953, it was announced that the North Platte Baseball Association was opening a new boxing and wrestling arena above the Hinman Garage on the corner of Bailey and 4th Streets. Four ladies from the Australian Tag Team were scheduled to battle it out. They were Barbara Baker and Donna Marie Dieckman as one team, and Ruth Boatcallie and Carol Cook as another team.

Then in January of 1955, North Platte had another first in sporting events. On January 29th, four black women were coming to tussle in a match. Ethel Johnson, Marva Scott, Babs Wingo, and Kathy Wimbley were scheduled to fight in the best two out of three bouts. Of the four wrestlers, three of them were sisters. Babs Wingo, the oldest, Ethel Johnson was the middle sister, and Marva Scott, the youngest, hailed from Decatur, Georgia. The fourth woman, Kathy Wimbley, was from Columbus, OH. By the time they were wrestling, they were calling different places home from Atlanta, GA to New Orleans, NJ and many places in between. <see photographs>

The four women became professional wrestlers in 1950. Ethel was considered the heroic figure, and Babs the villain when they performed together. Ethel was also the most athletic of the three sisters. Ethel retired in 1976 and passed away on September 18, 2019. Babs (Betty) and Marva passed away in 2003.

According to the Daily Telegraph a few days after the January 29, 1955 North Platte debut, the wrestling match was a huge success. Due to the good turnout the ladies were brought back to North Platte on October 22, 1955 to grapple again. That match, deemed “Rassle Royal”, brought back Kathleen Wimbley, Babs Wingo, Ethel Johnson, and they were joined by Louise Green and Betty White. All of the events also had male wrestling matches, but the ladies became more popular and were a big draw for many years throughout the country.

According to an article written by Neil Genzlinger on November 25, 2019 for the New York Times, the story of the three ladies became part of a documentary called “Lady wrestler: The Amazing, Untold Story of African-American Women in the Ring.” This new documentary released in December 2020 is available from Amazon. Clips of various historic matches throughout the country involving these barrier breaking women can also be found on YouTube.

All of the black lady wrestlers braved racism and sexism in a white, male-dominated sport during years that segregation was still in effect. At the peak of their wrestling careers, they were among the highest paid black athletes in the United States.